Provisioning habitat with custom-designed nest-boxes increases reproductive success in an endangered finch

James Brazill-Boast*, Sarah R. Pryke, Simon C. Griffith

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

29 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Manipulating resource availability to assess the strength and effects of resource limitation on an animal population is relatively straightforward, and thus, common in the scientific literature. Resource quality, however, is rarely manipulated, as this requires a priori knowledge of a relationship between some measurable variation in the resource and individual preference and/or fitness. Recent research on nest-site selection was used to inform the design of custom-built nest-boxes for an endangered hollow-nester, the Gouldian finch (Erythrura gouldiae). By provisioning breeding populations with these 'high quality' artificial nest sites over 3years, we experimentally investigated the strength and effects of nest-site limitation in this species. Breeding pairs using nest-boxes initiated nesting earlier, produced larger clutches and fledged more offspring per season than those in natural hollows. Total and mean reproductive output also increased in nest-box provisioned sites over the duration of the study. All of these effects were predominantly driven by pairs initiating clutches earlier, potentially because of the reduced intra- and interspecific competition for nest sites at optimal breeding times. Our findings suggest that reproduction in wild Gouldian finch populations may be limited by the availability of high quality nest sites in the landscape, and that nest-boxes could be used as a tool for enhancing reproduction in recovering populations. Furthermore, we conclude that resource quality is equally, if not more important than quantity when supplementing resource-limited habitats.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)405-412
Number of pages8
JournalAustral Ecology
Volume38
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2013

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